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News Link • Secret Government Projects

Bull Run, Manassas...

•, By Josh Voorhees

The latest Edward Snowden-fueled revelation about the NSA's secret spy programs dropped Thursday evening, courtesy of a rather impressive team effort between the Guardian, the New York Times and ProPublica. The top-line takeaway, in the words of the Times, is that the NSA is "winning its long-running secret war on encryption."

My colleague Ryan Gallagher has much more on the news over on Future Tense (where he points out that the government may be winning that war, but it certainly hasn't won it yet). But after reading up on the covert encryption-breaking program known as "Bullrun" and its predecessor "Manassas," you might be left with the same question as several of us in the Slate newsroom: Why the heck did the NSA decide to name the covert programs after battles in the American Civil War?

Obviously, the only people who know the definitive answer to that question aren't talking. But thanks to our battalion of Civil War buffs on staff, we can at least make an educated guess. 

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